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Back to school

4 February 2007 Media Statement
Back to school

The thousands of young New Zealanders starting school or heading back to school this week are joining a world class education system with more teachers, more funding and major initiatives successfully implemented, says Education Minister Chris Carter.

Under the Labour-led government, the number of teachers in all state schools has increased by around 7000, while primary enrolments have declined with enrolments expected to be 477,300 this year, 2000 fewer than last year.

Secondary enrolments are expected to be about 277,100, an increase of around 200.

Also under Labour, operations grant funding for schools was $706,001,163 in 1999 and that’s expected to rise to $1,030,978,354 this year. Last year, total government funding on schools was $5.7 billion and this is expected to rise to $5.8 billion in the year to June 2008.

Overall education funding has increased from $5.7 billion to $9.6 billion last year – an increase of 68 percent.

A number of major milestones have been achieved including 20 hours free early childhood education for three and four year olds, the successful introduction of NCEA and a new New Zealand curriculum.

“Last week, the government announced the Realising Youth Potential initiative which will see young New Zealanders in some form of training until the age of 18, another major step to ensure New Zealand’s education system meets the needs of all students,” Chris Carter says.

An expected 754,300 students in total will be in classrooms by Thursday.

Young New Zealanders going to school for the first time this week will number around 9,500 while over the whole year 57,200 children will start school.

“School is still a big step but not as big as it once was, with 95 percent of new entrants already attending some form of early childhood education,” Chris Carter said.

Figures so far indicate there are fewer teacher vacancies this year, down from 154 to 129 in the primary sector and from 212 to 198 in secondary schools. Predicted shortages in Auckland, particularly south Auckland, have not been as high as predicted.

“While vacancy rates may rise during the year, this will be due to the 276 new positions that have been created in order to achieve the government’s 1:18 student ratio to be implemented from term two this year,” Chris Carter says.

The Minister said major settlements with teacher unions meant schools began the education year with a high degree of certainty. Secondary teachers have ratified their agreement.

“One of the biggest-ever pay settlements, for primary teachers, is out for ratification, just one of the major industrial settlements achieved over the past few months,” Chris Carter said.

“This government knows very well that quality teachers are absolutely vital to our education system. We need our schools to be able to attract and retain quality teachers and reward those who take on extra responsibilities while increased funding allows schools to support mentoring, professional development and specialist roles for teachers,” Chris Carter says.

“The Labour-led government believes education is the key to all New Zealanders reaching their potential and is the best opportunity we all have to succeed in a 21st century economy.

“I wish everyone involved in education the very best for the coming year.”


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